By Joe Wilcox, Betanews
Uh-oh, Microsoft, perhaps it’s time for a new “Get the Facts” campaign. You told the world that open-source software really wasn’t cheaper or as easy to manage as commercial products. Well, only about half of IT organizations believed you.Today, Gartner released findings that more than one-half of IT organizations use open-source software, based on a survey of 547 IT organizations from 11 countries. To my surprise, the survey data isn’t exactly fresh, having been conducted in July and August 2010. Well, it’s not like most companies change platforms very often, so perhaps six months is fresh enough. Gartner refers to open-source software as OSS.My, how times have changed. Less than 10 percent of IT organizations used open-source software five years ago. The number rose to 30 percent three-and-a-half years ago. Gartner noted a proportional drop in commercial software usage, which surely is no coincidence. Most organizations now use commercial and open-source software side by side, particularly for homegrown projects.What Gartner didn’t say but I will: This presents a problem for enterprise software vendors like Microsoft. The company pushes products like Office System and SharePoint Server as platforms around which IT can develop internal software. During Microsoft’s fiscal 2011 second quarter, the Business division delivered handsome results, with revenue up 24 percent buoyed by strong Office 2010 sales. However, the division’s non-annuity revenue grew by 40 percent compared to just 9 percent growth for annuity contracts. Businesses purchasing this way are least likely to upgrade to the next Office version or even the one after. The break-even point between a one-off sale and annuity license is 3.5 years. Presumably then, many IT organizations aren’t planning on upgrading from Office 2010 any sooner than 3.5 years, and more likely longer.